Last week I got an email from a kind reader asking if I would consider developing a recipe for one of her favorite “factory-made” desserts. The minute I clicked the link she provided, I knew I wanted to make her cheesecake dreams come true.
I had concerns about how this cake would translate to real world baking. No doubt it is mass-produced with industrial equipment since it is sold nationwide at a popular restaurant chain. I knew I would have to simplify each of the recipe’s elements and keep the baking equipment simple. With its many layers, the recipe I came up with is time consuming, but it will not be difficult for the home baker to execute.
One other thing. This cake weighs in excess of 10 lbs. What accounts for the girth? It has four layers, two of which are dense cheesecakes filled with peanut butter cups, layered with a caramel made with two cans of sweetened condensed milk and a whopping 80 caramels (amongst other things… ahem…lots of butter). Sandwiched between the caramel layers are salty peanuts that provide a nice contrast to the sweetness, and a light as air whipped chocolate ganache frosting wraps the whole thing up. It is topped with an easy to make peanut butter frosting and garnished with more peanut butter cups and chocolate curls.
Below are many of the steps illustrated in pictures. Should you choose to indulge your time and waistline in this veritable peanut butter and chocolate opus, you may find them helpful.
The recipe has notes that correspond with the numbered pictures. This
may help you to visualize the steps as you read the recipe.
Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cake Cheesecake
Crustless Cheesecake portion:
- 30 mini peanut butter cups each one quartered
- 2 sticks 16 tbsp softened butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4- 8 oz packages cream cheese softened
- 1- 3 oz. package cook and serve vanilla pudding
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Caramel for cake layers:
- 2-14 oz cans of sweetened condensed milk
- 10 tbsp. butter
- 80 caramels
- Scant cup of salted peanut halves
Chocolate cake portion:
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cups cocoa powder unsweetened
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup canola oil or other vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup of coffee – must be hot!
Chocolate ganache frosting:
- 13 oz. or 1 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 tbsp. corn syrup
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips -semisweet
Peanut Butter Frosting and Garnish:
- 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- 8 tbsp butter softened
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 9 mini peanut butter cups
Crust-less Cheesecake portion:
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9″ pans with shortening, line the pans with parchment and then grease the parchment. Lightly flour the pans and tap out excess over the sink. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add cream cheese a little at a time until smooth. Scrape bowl down and beat again on medium speed, adding eggs one at a time. Add remaining ingredients except peanut butter cups. Mix again until smooth.
- With a rubber spatula, fold in quartered peanut butter cups. Divide batter evenly between pans. You should have 8 cups of batter, so 4 cups in each pan. Smooth batter with offset spatula (Fig.1) and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour. Cheesecake will puff up during baking, then deflate when taken out.
- Do not turn out cheesecakes when they are finished baking. Put them directly in the freezer, and leave until frozen solid.
- Turn out frozen cheesecake layers and peel parchment from the bottoms. Line the pan they were in with enough parchment or wax paper to hang over the sides of the pan (Fig. 3). Place the cheesecakes back in the pans. This makes removal FAR more easy after caramel layer has been added. Place cheesecakes back into the freezer while you make the caramel layer.
Caramel for cake layers:
- Important note: This recipe is made in two batches, so all of the ingredients are divided.
- In a large microwaveable bowl, place 1- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk, 5 tbsp. butter, and 40 caramels. Heat at 1 minute intervals until smooth. My household microwave at full power took about 4 minutes.
- Pour caramel evenly over frozen layers of cheesecakes. Be careful to not let much of the caramel drip over the sides. Sprinkle each layer with 3-4 tbsp. of salted peanut halves. Return cheesecake layers to freezer.
Chocolate cake portion:
- Grease 2- 9″ pans with shortening and line with parchment. Grease parchment and lightly flour pan, tapping out excess. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Sift all the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. In a 4 cup glass measure, mix all the wet ingredients except hot coffee!
- Turn mixer on low speed and gradually add wet ingredients to dry. Stop and scrape down the bowl, making sure to scrape the bottom where dregs tend to gather. Return mixer to low speed and beat in hot coffee. Mixture will be very thin.
- Divide batter evenly between the two pans, and bake for 35-40 minutes (check at 35). Cake is ready when toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool slightly in pans. Run knife around the edge of cakes and turn them out. Let them rest on a cooling rack.
- When cool, level cakes with a serrated knife or cake leveler. Line cake pans with parchment or wax paper, enough to hang over the edges (just like previously with the cheesecake layers). Return cake layers to parchment lined pans.
- Make 2nd batch of caramel as directed for the cheesecake layer. Pour caramel evenly over both chocolate cake layers (Fig. 4), sprinkle with 3-4 tbsp. salted peanut halves. Place caramel covered cakes in freezer until caramel has hardened a bit (about 15 minutes).
- Remove all cake layers from freezer. Remove all cake layers from pans using the parchment overhang to pull them out. Stack layers beginning with 1 layer of chocolate cake as the bottom, then cheesecake layer, then chocolate layer, and last cheesecake layer will be on top (Fig.5). Wrap layers in plastic wrap and freeze overnight. You’ll frost your cake the next day.
Chocolate ganache frosting:
- Note: Remove cheesecake layers from freezer and unwrap. Choose your serving plate and line it with wax paper strips. Place cake over strips. Now you’re ready to frost.
- Put chocolate chips in a medium bowl or 4 cup measure. Heat cream in a saucepan over medium high heat until very hot but not boiling. Pour hot cream over chips and stir until smooth. Remove 2/3 cup chocolate mixture and pour into a small bowl. Add 1/2 tbsp. corn syrup and stir. When combined, immediately pour over top of cake (Fig. 6), creating a shiny dark topping and taking care that most remains on top of the cake and doesn’t spill down the edges (Fig.7). Return cake, uncovered this time, to freezer.
- Fit stand mixer with whisk attachment. Pour remaining chocolate ganache into the stand mixer bowl and whip on the highest speed for 5-10 minutes (I set my timer for 7 minutes) until icing is light and fluffy. Icing is ready when it is thick and can be pulled into a stiff peak (Fig. 8).
- Remove cake layers from freezer and frost sides with chocolate ganache using an offset spatula. The whipped frosting should grab on to the frozen cakes well. Use all the ganache frosting, evening the cake’s surface as you work.
- Melt chocolate chips at 30 second intervals in the microwave; stir until smooth. Pour onto cookie sheet and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Place in refrigerator for 5-7 minutes, or until the chocolate is firm and has a matte appearance.
- Remove from refrigerator and let stand for a few minutes (3-5ish) at room temperature. With a small, sharp spatula, begin scraping chocolate at one edge in a thin strip. If chocolate breaks into pieces it is too cold, so allow it to stand a few minutes more at room temp. Chocolate should curl easily as you run your spatula under the chocolate and down the length of the cookie sheet. Place curls in a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready for use.
- To garnish cake with chocolate curls, let cake stand at room temperature for a few minutes, then remove curls from refrigerator and gently press into the sides of the cake.
Peanut Butter Frosting and Garnish:
- Cream peanut butter and butter together in stand mixer with whisk attachment. Gradually add powdered sugar. Whip on high speed until light and fluffy.
- Transfer icing to a piping bag fitted with a large french piping tip. Pipe 8 large swirls around the top edge of cake, and pipe one swirl in the middle. Garnish each swirl with a peanut butter cup.
Using the exact same pans for both cheesecakes and chocolate cakes will keep you from having to trim the edges when stacking all layers together. (I had to trim the cheesecake edges a little, see Fig.7)
The caramel is very gooey and when cold can be a little resistant to slicing. Run a knife under hot water and dry it off, then cut the cake with the warm knife for a nice even slice.
Thank you Debbie for the excellent post idea! I loved writing this recipe and taste-testing the results!
Please deliver this to me ASAP! It looks fabulous!
Oh my you have all sorts of out done yourself…now I need to come up with a challenge for you, they obviously suit you! Really great job with the curls, really adds an over the top elegance
This is GORGEOUS. I'm amazed at how attractive it is. 1000x more attractive than their version.
This is quite possibly the most sinful dessert I have ever laid my eyes on! I love all the different layers of chocolate, caramel and nuts. I would love to have slice of this right now. Those chocolate curls are amazing!
Spectacular! I am going to try a cake this weekend that calls for chocolate curls on the side! THANKYOU! for the video. That must have been a feat to accomplish for sure and your results are outstanding!
That looks just stunning. Where did you find your cake stand? I love it!
I gained 3lbs just looking at these photos. Opus indeed!
I enjoyed your video! Such a cute song 🙂
Oh my heavens! I think you've outdone yourself, Heather! This has got to be THE ultimate cheesecake! It's such a treat for the senses! SO beautiful! I love the video(audio and visual)~thanks for including it. Time to post this on facebook:)
Wow! I am speechless. This is the most beautiful, delicious looking cake
I have seen in a long time. Amazing!
Oh heaven help my skinny jeans!
Oh. My. God. THAT looks utterly amazing.
This looks waay decadent!! delish! Love the chocolate curl detail!
I really, really, really love sweets, but I can't see how someone could eat that. Even a little bit. Not trying to be a hater. I love this blog. I'm just saying. Holy mackerel.
Wow. I would love to taste it. Gonna have to put on my list of things to make.
Wow, this cake is amazing, beautiful and so tempting! A heavenly combination of flavors. Devilishly scrumptious.
This is a masterpiece. I have he biggest weakness for peanut butter cups. This cake will surely do me in. Fantastic! Love the video, btw 😉
Oooooh, looking at this makes me go weak in the knees. Will have to give the recipe a try!
Holy crap. This cake is beyond amazing. I'm freaking drooling!!
I did something similar to this for my husband's birthday in February. Having to make up the recipe as I went along I made a chocolate chip flecked cheesecake and then brownies as the "cake" layer and used some leftover chocolate fondue and combined it with your cream cheese frosting recipe for in between the layers and the outside. Definitely very rich and dense and it took us both sharing it almost a week and a half to polish it off. Also, made it using a single 6 in round cake pan. With it being such a small pan, it… Read more »
OMG. Please send me a pound or so of this bad boy. Looks amazing! 🙂
WOW! This cake is totally awesome!
OH MY GOODNESS….I NEED A CIGARETTE!!!! PATTI B.
I want to know what this cost to make! This sounds delicious to me, but I don't know if i know enough people who like the peanut butter/chocolate combo to eat this… I bet it could easily be swapped for a snickers version.
This is everything that's right in the world all rolled into one dessert.
You're making me drool… And I don't even like cheesecake!
Oh gosh, oh wow, ok. We are obsessing, in love, amazed, drooling. This looks totally, insanely delicious! GAH!
Oh my god, I've died and gone to heaven!! This is just too much!
Stunning cake! It's absolutely beautiful and I bet it tastes amazing. You're so awesome!
OMG this is my dream come true!! Lots of steps, but I have a feeling it's worth it! Bookmarked 🙂
Oh. My. God. That might be the prettiest cake I've ever seen. It'd almost be a shame to cut into it, except I bet it tastes absolutely AMAZING.
Yum yum yum ….
Look at that lovely. Can u make that for my birthday ! ! N i just love that cake stand. So different …
Seriously! You're desserts are just plain stunning!! Can I come over for a cup of joe?!
That is the most stunning cheesecake I've ever seen! I just love what you did with the chocolate curls – thanks for an amazing looking recipe some great tips!
Heather- you are a brilliant artist and baker. You inspire me.
Holy cow – that looks amazing!!! I'd love a piece right now!
I'll have to give this a try one weekend. I know I'd love it.
Oh! My! God!
I truly haven't seen anything this appealing in years! I wants it!
That is just gorgeous! Beautiful job in creating the "factory" cake.
Oh my word, My husband my possibly be indebted to me all the days of his life if I made this. It probably wouldn't look nearly as gorgeous as yours though. Your Pictures are so beautiful!
This is truly amazing. Absolutely beautiful!!! I would hope to someday make something remotely as beautiful and delicious as this cake. 😀
oh, my goodness – YUM!
I love your wirey cake stand – would you mind sharing where it's from?!
OMG!!!!! Water is running in my mouth right now! It looks so yummy! I HAVE to make it one day but I'm afraid I will eat it all myself… lol.
The cake looks really beautifull with all the layers and the chocolate curls. I love it!
heather…heather…heather…OMG!…outrageous, fab! this cake is a masterpiece!!!!!!
shout out to debbie!
treadmill & pushups forever…
This is fabulous! What a masterpiece. I should send this post to my friend to pass them a hint on what I want on my birthday!
WOW! No doubt I'd gain more than the 10 pounds this cheesecake weighs should I eat it but something tells me it sure would be worth every ounce!
What I wouldn't do for a piece right NOW! I think you have the luckiest hubby in the whole wide world. Seriously.
This looks so heavenly delicious! I would have to make it at a time when it's guaranteed to dissapear…or else I would end up eating 3 pieces…which wouldn't be so good (for my weight.)
OMG! Looks absolutely AMAZING!!! I have to try this!